Laurie Rosenwald: Iron Chef of Encaustic

By Peggy Roalf   Tuesday June 29, 2021

Laurie Rosenwald, the self-described Iron Chef of Encaustic, has hardly ever been more evidently in charge than she is this week. On receiving the invite to her closing reception at Area/One Fifth Avenue NYC this Wednesday, I looked further, to find that her new book: How to Make Mistakes, [Hachette] will be out in November. But first, don’t miss this show of recent work in the most misunderstood medium of humankind, and the chance to ask the artist what’s so great about making mistakes [on purpose, of course].

Wednesday, June 30, 5-8 pm: Laurie Rosenwald | Iron Chef of Encaustic, at Area, One Fifth Avenue, NYC Map @Rosenworld

So I was delighted to find the interview Bob Newman did with Rosenfeld back in 2017 [which she labels "politically incorrect and shocking”), here for quick review:

llustrator Profile - Laurie Rosenwald: "I love to work"

By Robert Newman   Thursday January 12, 2017

Laurie Rosenwald is a New York City-based illustrator, artist, designer, and book creator. In addition to her many editorial illustrations for a wide variety of publications, Rosenwald has created animation, product design, and leads an ongoing workshop, “How to Make Mistakes on Purpose.You can see a cool video interview with Rosenwald here, where she talks about art, design, illustration, and her approach to storytelling. Rosenwald’s work is a mix of collage, drawing, painting, and more. She says “What I do depends almost wholly on what materials I happen to grab.”

I am a single, white, female, German Jew Homosapien. Design Crone? Delusional Genius? Adorable Pariah? Imaginary Swede?

I came out on Valentine’s Day, 2015, as a Bikesexual. Yes, I am in love with my own bicycle. His name is Jopo. He is white. He is Finnish. I have an identical Jopo in Sweden, too. She/he/it is black. Nota Bene: This has yet to be celebrated. Lavish floral tributes should be addressed to my Hudson Street address.

I am a Native New Yorker. I live both in Manhattan, and remotest Scandinavia. Mostly in NYC though. People think I live in Sweden full time. I DO NOT. So invite me to your super fun dance party. I am a superb party guest, and an excellent dancer. I will wash the dishes and take out the garbage.

My father was a talented sculptor, and an even more brilliant drunk. He was married four times, and never did get it right. He inherited lots of money so that he did not have to work. Because of these reasons, he never got anywhere. That’s why I was afraid to be an Artist—artist, with a capital A. It meant “failure.” I liked the idea of being, you know, practical and having a respectable job, but I am an artsy fartsy artist deep down and can’t help approaching even the most prosaic assignments in that way.

And I have to work very hard to support myself. And I’m very proud of my commercial work. I love working for clients as much as I love painting. For real. Even with all the changes. In fact, I think I get better every year.

Naïve fantasist that I was, back then I was trying to avoid the pretension of the fine art world in favor of an egalitarian design meritocracy of goodness and skill, which unfortunately existed only in my imagination. And the art world is, in its own way, more commercial, gimmicky and false. So this was politically misguided, pointless and stupid and I’m still paying for that mistake.

Indeed, there are saintly beings creating affordable housing out of windshields and reclaimed carpet tile. But they don’t make up for the vast majority of boneheads out there, like me, in it just for good looks. My dustpan is from Muji. But I’m not proud of it.

Admit. Good design is mostly for the educated few. Most of the world’s people don’t care about it—and why should they? They have bigger troubles, most of which design is powerless to solve. Cynical? Yes, but all idealists are.

And I’m so tired of all this twee, Lululemon smarminess. Platitudes are Fascism, in my opinion. If your shopping bag says, “Friends are Worth More than Money” on it, I think I’ll  shoplift this $118 Ready to Rulu Hoodie, just for spite.

It’s all fishwrap, I tell you. That said, I’ve written and illustrated three fabulous books:

All the Wrong People Have Self-Esteem: An Inappropriate Book for Young Ladies* has withstood the test of time. It still makes me crack up. And in my view, that’s worth something.

My children’s book, And to Name but Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue is colorific.

New York Notebook is being updated, even as we speak. It’s a guidebook, a notebook, and a blank book with useful stuff in it, all mushed up together. 

And I’ve just finished a How to Make Mistakes on Purpose book too. More here